Intense 2005 hurricane season may be harbinger of things to come

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season officially ended yesterday (at which point we emerged from basement bunker, blinking), having racked up a record-breaking 26 named storms. Thirteen of these became hurricanes, and three reached Category 5 strength, including Katrina. And over half the past two seasons’ storms have made landfall, compared to an average of 9 percent from 1995 to 2003. “It was incredibly out of the ordinary,” said federal hurricane specialist Jack Beven. Some researchers say we may see more such destructive storms in years to come, thanks in part to warmer sea-surface temperatures in the tropics. A natural-cycle variation or global warming? Most experts are unwilling to come down on one side or the other. “This season was such an extreme event that it’s a little difficult to believe it could repeat itself on a regular basis,” said Beven. “But it’s too early to tell what the next season will bring.”